After some extensive coverage of the US over the past weeks, Edward Snowden shifts our focus to Germany with Angela Merkel’s call to Obama to demand clarifications over reports that the US National Security Agency (NSA) has been monitoring her mobile phone.
There, right at the heart of the German Foreign Office in Berlin, we closely followed the Fifth World Health Summit 2013 hosted by the M8 Alliance. The annual ‘Davos for health’ allowed policymakers, academia, civil society and private sector to discuss about health at the highest level. The event focused on four main topics: Research and Innovation, Education and Leadership, Evidence to Policy and Global Health for Development.
Perhaps best expressed by Michael Marmot’s plea for having ‘economics debated as if people matter’, there seemed to be an overall consensus that action for global health is an essential precondition for human development, individually and collectively. But there were also feelings of dissatisfaction and frustrations as summed up by Richard Horton quoting his twelve year old daughter’s opinion about the summit as being ‘only talks and not enough action’ (like breeds like ;).
The M8 Alliance released the following joint statement in Berlin ‘Scientific Progress is enormous, but it does not reach the people who need it most. The burden of disease is even getting greater in many regions of the world. This is not tolerable. We have to take responsibility.’
A statement clearly illustrated with concrete examples at several occasions this week:
- WHO Global tuberculosis report 2013 pointed out that the number of TB deaths is still unacceptably large given that most can be prevented.
- World Polio Day on 24th October applauded progresses in polio eradication but alarmingly highlights the strong need for the global community to stay alert as new cases are reported in countries previously freed of it (read also a previous IHP blogpost on this topic).
- World Obesity Day on 26th October focused on the rise of this global epidemic.
- World Stroke Day on 29th October reminds us that one in six people will have a stroke in their lifetime, making it second only to ischaemic heart disease as the leading cause of death globally. ‘Prevention basics’ are crucial, especially in LMIC where treatment may not be available and accessible yet.
- The 2013 Global Hunger Index reported that 870 million people are still chronically undernourished with an important role to be taken up by the global health community
But it’s always good to end on a positive note: In this week’s Editorial our colleague Kristof Decoster reports about the Harare 25+ meeting in Dakar, Senegal. You may notice that the newsletter is shorter than usual. He was slightly overwhelmed by the stunning location, it appears. Nevertheless, after attending this landmark meeting that brought together stakeholders to assess progress and prospects on district health in Africa 25 years after the Harare Declaration (1987), he concludes: ‘Yes Africa can!’.
Enjoy your reading.
An Appelmans, Kristof Decoster, Peter Delobelle, Basile Keugoung & Wim Van Damme
Feeling like James Bond in Dakar
For a number of reasons I felt very fortunate to attend the regional conference “Health district in Africa: Progress and prospects 25 years after the Harare Declaration” which took place from 21-23 October in Dakar, Senegal, and was organized by the Community of Practice “Health Service Delivery”, in collaboration with several Harmonization for Health in Africa (HHA) agencies (UNICEF, WCARO, WAHO, WHO, etc.) and Be-cause Health, with the financial support of the French Muskoka Fund.
1. WHO NEWS – Gains in tuberculosis control at risk due to 3 million missed patient and drug resistance
Ever since the MDGs tuberculosis (TB) has been declared a global health threat worldwide. Despite numerous efforts to prevent TB, WHO’s STOP TB strategy in 2006 being one of them, the report reveals that the world still counted 8.6 million people developing TB and 1.3 million deaths in 2012 and that we are still not at par with the MDG 6 target to reduce TB deaths with 50% worldwide. The report identifies 5 priority actions needed to accelerate towards the target by 2015: 1) Action to reach the 3 million missed TB cases, 2) address multi-drug resistant TB as a public health crisis, 3) accelerate the response to TB/HIV, 4) increase financing to close all resource gaps, 5) ensure rapid uptake of innovations. A nice short summary can be found in this week’s Lancet by Alimuddin et al.
2. THE LANCET GLOBAL HEALTH (editorial) – Remembering the “prevention basics”
At the occasion of the World Stroke Day (29th Oct) the Lancet Global Health collected several papers highlighting the risk factors and actions needed to attack stroke, the number two cause of death worldwide. Drawing on the papers in this month’s issue, Mullan states that prevention encouraging healthy lifestyle is key, especially in LMIC, if we want to reduce risk and death toll of the disease.
3. BMJ (Editorial) – Universal Health Coverage : a policy whose time has come
In this BMJ editorial, Margaret Kruk argues UHC is a policy whose time has come – It is both the right and the smart thing to do
4. CDG – PEPFAR’s impending leadership tradition
Amanda Glassman & Jenny Ottenhoff;
Amanda Glassman& Jenny Ottenhoff (CGD) look ahead to the pending HIV leadership transition in the US. “ It appears that the worst kept secret in Washington is out: Ambassador Goosby is expected to step down as Global Aids Coordinator later this year. … One preliminary conclusion: Goosby’s successor will certainly face programmatic challenges, but the political ones may prove to be more difficult.”
5. PLOS – Modelling the Strategic Use of Antiretroviral Therapy for the Treatment and Prevention of HIV
Nathan Ford et al.;
Until recently the impact of antiretroviral therapy (ART) was mainly measured in lives saved: its scale up reduced the death toll in LMIC with more than 4 million. The recognition of new ART strategies within treatment and prevention opens a whole new perspective in battling the HIV epidemic. The authors look at three key areas where modeling could help define priorities.
6. THE LANCET OFFLINE – Who cares about human rights anyway?
Horton reports on a meeting in London about the contribution of human rights to global health with reflections of opponents and supporters but he concludes that human right advocates still have work to do in global health.
7. HUMANOSPHERE – Why global health? Polio in Syria, Texas dengue, West Nile’s killer cousin
Due to its butterfly effect, health is now more than ever to be seen in a global context. We can learn a lot if we no longer treat disease outbreaks, such as polio and dengue, in an isolated context but ‘as symptoms of an ever-changing, ever challenged system’, Paulson says.
8. HUMANOSPHERE – Gates Foundation scores “very poor” on transparency index
Tom Paulson draws attention to the 2013 Aid Transparency Index, where the Gates foundation is ranking only 43th out of 67 aid and development organisations assessed on openness and accountability. Aren’t they legally supposed to be serving the public good, Paulson rightfully wonders.
9. HEALTH POLICY & PLANNING – Dual practice by doctors working in South and East Asia: a review of its origins, scope and impact, and the options for regulation
DB Hipgrave & K Hort;
Though there is a lack of sufficient data, this review looks into the dual practice (private/public work) by health professionals that can be found in Asia and worldwide. The authors look into the weaknesses and opportunities of dual practice and see major benefits in good regulation.
10. IHP – WHO’s engagement with “non-state actors”.
Remco van de Pas;
As representative of Wemos Foundation, Remco van de Pas critically reflects on WHO’s informal consultation with non-state actors.
11. THE GUARDIAN – Future development goals: ‘the tough work is about to begin’
This article looks into the tough tasks of the UN working group on sustainable development goals (SDGs) headed by Macharia Kamau. The group will take one year to ‘design a new set of ambitious, global goals that will apply to all countries and help orient international attention and resources towards tackling some of the world’s most pressing problems.
12. AIDSPAN – It’s About Time the Global Fund Implemented Its Gender Equality Strategy
In 2008 the Global Fund (GF) adopted a Gender Equality Strategy (GES). The author lists 9 interventions GF said it would implement to achieve the strategy. However to date the listed interventions are still far from implemented.
13. THE LANCET (Editorial) – The complex challenge of hunger
The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is designed to extensively measure and track hunger globally, nationally and regionally. To reflect the complex nature of hunger the report weighs 3 indicators: 1) undernourishment, 2) child underweight and 3) child mortality. The report sees the solution in resilience with an important role to be played by the health community through focusing on research and evidence on interventions to reduce people’s vulnerability.
14. HUFFINGTON POST BLOG – Progress beyond prices
As one of the members of the Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations, Piot summarizes their report ‘Now for the Long Term’. Despite considerable progress strategies are needed to better tackle non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The commission recommends the creation of an action-focused global network that liaises with the food and tobacco industry.
15. POST2015 –World Bank report: Financing for development post-2015
A must read for those who want to have a quick idea what it takes to effectively finance a post-2015 agenda according this recent World Bank report.
16. FACE A FACE (editorial) – Global Health: What are we talking about?
Last but not least, do not miss out on the special Face a Face theme issue on Global Health with papers on
- Global Governance for Health: http://faceaface.revues.org/801
- Global health: evolution of the definition, use and misuse of the term: http://faceaface.revues.org/745